Flames close season with loss

By MEL PERKINS

The Northgate Flames (2-6, 2-7) traveled down to Coraopolis last Friday night to take on the Cornell Raiders (1-7, 1-8) and, unlike the past four games, the Flames were unable to spark their offense early and were held scoreless in the first quarter. When the air cleared, the Flames were on the losing end of the 22-6 dust-up that has all the markings of a contentious rivalry game.

The Flames beat the Raiders last year by the score 73-0, and it was clear when the Raiders took the field that they had not forgotten about that game. Cornell was looking to wrap up their second season after getting their team back two years ago, and they were looking for their first win in two years. While the Flames had a highly successful season last year, they went 10-2 losing to the Clairton Bears in the WPIAL Class 1A Semi-Finals game.

Needless to say, the Raiders were on a mission of redemption, and the Flames entered a hostile environment needing to get on the board right away, to quiet the crowd. That didn't happen, and the Flames would never take the lead.

The Flames kicked off to start the game, and the Raiders went 53 yards in 10 plays to score the first TD of the game with 6:47 on the clock. After converting the two point conversion, the Raiders were up 8-0.

The Flames were forced to punt on their first possession, but the defense was sturdy, stopping the Raiders on their next series. The Flames took over on downs on their 49 yard line, and mounted a six play drive to get on the scoreboard with 11:47 on the clock in the second quarter.

Starting on their 49, the Flames' Eric Hogan was caught in the backfield for a loss of two yards. But, looking at 2nd-and-12 from the 47, Jacian Sustayta took a hand-off across midfield to the Cornell 47. From there, Gary Hairston caught a pass from Christian Davin picking up a first down and move the chains to the 41. The first quarter came to an end, and the Flames again looked to the pass. This time Davin connected with Hogan out in the flat and he scampered 41 yards for the Northgate TD. The two point conversion failed, but the Flames were on the board, down 8-6.

The Flames' next series ended prematurely with an interception after putting together a nine play drive from their 16 to the Cornell 13. A deflected pass intended for Paul Morris ended up in the Raiders' hands, and Cornell capitalized, scoring a TD with just 54 seconds left in the half to go up on the Flames 16-6.

The Flames went on offense to start the second half, but after getting out to midfield, the series stalled, and Northgate was forced to punt. Cornell used their first series of the half to mount a 13 play drive to go 88 yards and score, and go up on the Flames 22-6 with 3:26 left in the third quarter.

Both teams remained scoreless the rest of the game, and the final score after four quarters of play was Cornell 22 and Northgate 6.

Adding salt to the wounds, Cornell's student section rushed the field in celebration as if they had just won the WPIAL Championship, all before the customary handshake had taken place, an act that the Flames and their student section won't soon forget.